I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
I will show wonders in the heavens
and on the earth,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be deliverance,
as the Lord has said,
even among the survivors
whom the Lord calls.
- Joel 2:28-32
Then say to the Lord your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.
- Deuteronomy 26:13
All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.
- Psalm 44:17-19
On the day of writing this, I awoke very early, haunted by a dream. I was haunted by the memory of the dream and the dream was a bit haunting. I told my wife the dream and she could not figure out what it meant.
I dreamed that I was on a military maneuver, or at least that is what I was thinking at the time.
We were in the middle of nowhere. We were paired with a roommate, each in a small hooch. They were the size of the old tents that we had at boy scout camp, enough room for two cots and some space in between to stand up and change clothes, but we only had the dirty clothes that we wore coming to the camp. Instead of a tent, the hooches had corrugated metal walls and roof, with little gaps between each sheet. No air conditioning. No heating. No lighting. But there was one common area that had lighting. As we were surviving the ordeal, we had rare free time in the common area, like a community park’s picnic pavilion. We gathered there to eat and talk.
Besides us at the “camp,” there were ghosts. At least they seemed like ghosts. They seemed ethereal, not real. You only saw them in the shadows. They kept their distance, but they seemed menacing.
One night as I was thinking that it was not much longer before I could go home, the guys in the common area stole my box that basically contained a board game. They placed it outside the enclosure on a stump or small picnic table. I groaned, thinking of how I was the only one being picked on by people who I usually considered friends.
When I went out after dark to collect my board game, important since it contained all my memories, I was surrounded by a half dozen of the “ghosts.” I looked for a means of escape. It was not until then that I realized that we were all trapped inside a fenced enclosure. I tried to scream, but the scream was muffled. The “ghosts” had substance because they grabbed me and took me to their tent. They had a canvas cover. A few had wives with them. No one spoke, but I seemed to continuously hear them plead with me that their story needed to be told. What story?! They never said anything. It took a while to figure out, but I realized that these men had been in the first Gulf War. I realized that if I had stayed on active duty until time to retire, I would have been there too. I told them some simple stories of my time in the service, during peacetime. My stories were pathetic compared to their stories, but they never said anything. They just smiled and nodded as I talked.
Then I noticed two huge fish tanks in the middle of this large tent. As if it were possible, they had the old eight-inch tall toy soldiers in one tank and they were reproducing themselves into an army. In the other tank, it was Navy Seals, in scuba gear reproducing. I pointed and said, “My grandchildren have the same thing at home, but their toys are reproducing to make baseball players.” A couple of the wives snickered, the only sound ever heard from the mouths of these “ghosts.”
I went back to my tent. I pulled a nail out of the hasp on the door, opened the door, and went to my cot. I had never known until that moment that we were all locked into our hooches at night. My roommate whispered, “You know that we can get in a lot of trouble if you stay out after curfew.”
I then woke up.
I have no idea what this story was about. We were all prisoners. As I spent time with the “ghosts” it seemed they were prisoners of memories, memories that had to be told. Were they fallen soldiers who would never have a voice to tell their story? Were they veterans, trapped in a world of their own by PTSD? They never said anything.
But then, I ran into the dark unknown to retrieve my board game box containing my memories, just to discover that we were fenced in also. We were prisoners, prisoners of our own memories.
And as I unlocked the door and entered the hooch, I personally felt the weight of being a prisoner of memories.
What does this mean? Is God telling me something? It is so hard to determine when those who had stories that needed to be told were silent. And maybe that is the message for each of us.
Stop the silence. Tell your story. Especially tell the story of how God has transformed your life. Tomorrow may be too late.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.